If you’re thinking July was a month you’re happy to see gone, I wish to mention all the good happenings in July. No matter the terrible heat in recent weeks, July has had many good events.

First on the entertainment front

The Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar – their annual sponsorship of the Cool Classics. This is a wonderful series the museum along with the Oklahoma Arts Council sponsors with three concerts every July. Three local groups – the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Payne County Historical Society and the League of Women Voters provided refreshments for this season’s concerts.

A new group this summer included Erin Yeaman, a classical cellist, accompanied by her pianist Monica Tessitore and flutist Jennifer Peck. Their performance was outstanding.

The Friends of the Stillwater Community Center – they’re sponsoring a monthly showing of a classic movie. If you’ve never been a fan of classic movies, it must be because you haven’t seen any of them. The movies selected thus far have been excellent. I have attended all of them. The August movie featured Friday night was “Angel and the Badman,” a 1947 American western staring John Wayne, Gail Russell, Harry Carey and Bruce Cabot.

The Modella Art Gallery in partnership with the Stillwater Public Library – a StorySLAM, a live story-telling competition was hosted on July 25. This program featured stories based upon space from outer space to any space. The StorySLAM idea is from The Moth, a nonprofit group promoting storytelling. National Public Radio features The Moth Story Hour. According to Pat Jaynes, the July 25 event was quite a success, with several people telling stories and a large group in attendance.

Let’s hope the two are planning more partnerships for StorySLAMS.

A special feature about these events – they are free.

Now to the City of Stillwater

Block 34 is making progress. A few years from now, Stillwater residents will be be grateful the City created a task force to design and develop Block 34. This plan couldn’t have been created without the focus a task force has. That group has spent many hours in meetings working on plans. I’ve even seen Jim Beckstrom, Task Force Chair, making adjustments to the wind turbine.

Members of the Block 34 Task Force include Beckstrom; Victoria Berry, Vice Chair; Ariel Ross, Russ Teubner and Pat Zimmerman. An earlier member was Kevin Fowler. All of these people have given much time to this project. They’ve made progress happen.

We have a new Director for the Stillwater Public Library. Congratulations to Stacy DeLano! Anyone who goes to the library will recognize Stacy. The library staff has provided excellent programs and special events for many years – we know that excellence will continue under DeLano’s leadership.

Main Street

The project at the northwest corner of 7th and Main Street is progressing. Those two buildings where Hallmark and Main Street Noodle Shop were located appear to be on the way to completion. We look forward to the Bayou Bistreaux, a Cajun restaurant, adding to the downtown restaurant selections.

The Farmers Market

July brought the arrival of the Sugar Cube variety of canteloupes. Jim and Barbara Motes sell them every year at the Farmers Market – who would believe the arrival of a cantaloupe variety would be exciting? Oklahoma peaches are a close second.

All fiddle fans

Stillwater’s close neighbor Guthrie has the good news that Byron Berline’s Double Stop Fiddle Shop has reopened. On Feb. 24, Berline’s fiddle shop and his music hall burned. The quick reopening in a location across from the charred remains of his former shop are a tribute to his many worldwide fans who came across emotionally, physically and financially, according to BlueGrass Today.

If you’re wondering who Byron Berline is, then you haven’t been following bluegrass. I had never heard of him when I attended a performance he gave for an Oklahoma Historical Society conference in Stillwater. I became an immediate fan – an amazing performer. If you’ve never heard him play, plan to go to Guthrie or watch for him to appear in Perkins.

Great news

for older people

Our neighbors Gerry Auel and Steve Hallgren have been serving in the Peace Corps in Tanzania for the last two years. I wrote about them when they left for that venture. If you’re age 70 or older, you might consider a new challenge based upon what Gerry and Steve have just accomplished. They just made a successful climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa. https://hellofrompeacecorpstanzania.wordpress.com gives you a way to follow them on their climb. Mount Kilimanjaro’s elevation is 19,341 feet.

Gerry wrote to me after the climb, “I am the one who proposed that Steve and I climb Kilimanjaro ... although I didn’t begin so confidently. I said I wanted to “hike” on Kilimanjaro because I wasn’t sure I had the stamina to reach the top. Besides, I had met a Peace Corps Response volunteer who had climbed Kilimanjaro in her late ‘60s and she was from Colorado and had climbed many of the “fourteeners” so I was intimidated. (Fourteeners are mountains with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet or more). Once I decided to try the climb and once Steve began to research climbing companies and plan an itinerary, and once we learned that the greatest difficulty was adjusting to the altitude, the dye was case. I began to jog a mile or so a day. With the decision made, the “offsprings” were so “proud of their aging parents’ decision” that they told their friends and we could not let them down by giving up half way up the mountain. In addition, the 19 persons – porters and guides – who accompanied us would have felt like failures. When one is met with singing and dancing at the end of a difficult day hiking, one cannot go home.”

For all of you readers who are in the older category, doesn’t this news give you incentive? You could start by climbing a hill. Age 70 isn’t old at all.

Bad news can become good news

Remember the July weekend when we actually had a short downpour one night? I was coming out of the post office. A woman going into the building said, “Isn’t this an unexpected blessing?” In June, we wouldn’t we wouldn’t have been describing a downpour as a blessing.

Despite the heat, July was a good month after all.

Julie Couch is a longtime Stillwater resident.